There is a post going around my Facebook feed (which is admittedly 85% dog
folk) documenting an investigation of animal cruelty against Cesar Millan. He filmed a dog with a known history of killing pigs, and let it into a pen with pigs. One of the pigs suffered an injury to it's ear
(Reporting varies, stating the ear was "nipped and bled," all the way through to "bit a chunk of the ear off". I can't find a reputable source on severity of the pig's injury.)
In all the reporting of this story, there is one thing that absolutely has to be addressed that's gone on for far too long. This is the thing that would perhaps quell some of the discussion of if Mr. Millan is "abusing animals" or if he's "God's gift to canine kind." The one thing that needs to be addressed is this:
Any and all reporting on Cesar Millan needs to stop referring to him as a
In the dog industry, a behaviorist is someone who:
- Has received a certification from a science based group, usually after presenting 1500+ hours of dog behavior documentation and taking a lengthy exam going over stress signals, medication, anatomy, physiology, tools, and teaching ability.
- Has a PhD in an animal related field (like zoology)
- Is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who is accredited as a veterinary behaviorist through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. There are only around 75 certified behaviorists through the ACVB, and Mr. Millan's name is not on the list.
The news outlets reporting on this really need to ask questions and educate the public about the following:
- What is a behaviorist?
- How do I find a reputable one?
By explaining what a behaviorist does and who a behaviorist is, we can avoid the tired argument of if Cesar helps dogs or not. Instead of a really emotional argument based on ambiguity, there are terms that should be defined in the reporting, and that might help clear some things up regarding Mr. Millan.
In short, Mr. Millan can call himself a behaviorist.
I can call myself an astronaut.
Neither are true.
And here is a link to Considerations for the City Dog- a book that dedicates an entire chapter explaining the differences of these professionals.
In short, if you are looking for behavior help, look for credentials and know what your behavior professional had to do before earning the "Behavior Consultant", "Applied Animal Behaviorist" or "Veterinary Behaviorist" title before hiring. Do your due diligence for your dog's sake. If someone calls himself or herself a behaviorist, ask what they did to earn the title, and who gave them the credentials.
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